By  on July 2, 2010

Murad Inc. is breaking out of its traditional problem-solution skin care mold with two new collections.

The El Segundo, Calif.-based company this month is introducing Clean Scene, a line for routine skin care maintenance aimed at young adults and teens without serious skin issues. Murad is also flirting with makeup with Hybrids, a treatment cosmetics line that hit stores last month designed to conceal existing flaws as well as improve skin to stop the onset of future flaws.

“We have been problem-solution up until now,” said Howard Murad, the dermatologist who founded family-owned Murad in 1989. “These are the first launches trying to attract new categories that we haven’t had.…We want to encourage people that are using Murad to use more and people that are not to do so.”

Clean Scene’s five products priced from $16 to $24 — the cleanser Craving for Clean, facial scrub Gaga for Glow, SPF 15 moisturizer Down for Defense, moisturizer Begging for Balance and spot treatment Crazy for Clear — are driven by the antioxidant ingredient Yumberry. Murad describes Yumberry as a Chinese superfruit that keeps skin balanced and smooth.

“What is really interesting about this, besides the fact that it really is a wonderful antioxidant, is that the name is exciting and the smell is nice. The combination made it attractive,” he said.

For years, Murad recounted that customers have pleaded with him to try makeup, but he resisted because it was out of his brand’s element. But Murad felt comfortable testing the makeup waters with Hybrids because it is true to the brand’s heritage with benefits such as pore minimization, dark-circle relief and wrinkle reduction befitting a skin care specialist.

Hybrids’ four debut products, retailing for $35 each, are Eye Lift Illuminator, Eye Lift Perfector, Skin Perfecting Primer Dewy Finish and Skin Perfecting Primer Matte Finish. The primers feature the so-called Adaptive Shade Technology enabling them to match all skin tones.

“We don’t feel like makeup is what we want to do, but this is a [hybrid] category where we can help people maybe not even need makeup,” said Murad.

The packaging of Hybrids and Clean Scene diverges from Murad’s usually clinical oeuvre. Hybrids is encased in black to signal its cosmetics purpose, and Clean Scene has pops of color with circles in a variety of bright shades to appeal to a younger demographic. Unlike Hybrids and Murad’s other brands, Clean Scene is labeled “by Murad,” leaving open the possibility that it could enter distribution channels not customary for Murad.

Clean Scene is launching exclusively at Sephora, while Hybrids will blanket Murad’s U.S. distribution network of some 3,500 doors, most notably Sephora and Ulta. Murad estimated Hybrids and Clean Scene would generate $4 million and $2 million, respectively, in first-year wholesale sales. “We potentially see that as our biggest launch this year,” said Murad of Hybrids.

Murad’s business climbed 3 percent last year to around $134 million in sales, a rare single-digit gain following a long string of double-digit annual sales increases that Murad forecasts will return starting this year.

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